Saudi authorities must halt plans to extradite two Uyghur men to China, where they will face a high risk of torture in a brutal crackdown on Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, said Amnesty International today.
Religious scholar Aimidoula Waili and his friend Nuermaimei Ruze, who have been detained in Saudi Arabia since November 2020 without explanation, were transferred to the capital Riyadh last week and are now at risk of forcible return to China.
“If sent to China, it is highly likely that these two men will be subjected to arbitrary detention and torture in the repressive network of internment camps or prisons in Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of others Uyghurs have faced serious human rights violations,” said Lynn Malouf. , Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Under international law, the Saudi government has an obligation not to extradite Waili and Ruze to China because of the risk they face of being tortured. Saudi authorities should end any plans to deport the men and immediately release them from detention unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence.
Family members of the two Uyghur men told Amnesty International that Waili (also known as Hamdullah Veli) and Ruze (also known as Nur Muhammed Rozi) were transferred from Jeddah to Riyadh on March 16 – a move they say signals their impending extradition to China.
“We are extremely worried about our father, what would happen to him if he were sent to China. We need everyone to help immediately to stop this extradition,” Waili’s daughter Sumeyye told Amnesty International. .
“It is almost certain that my husband would be subjected to torture in China. Please stop this extradition,” Ruze’s wife added.
Waili, who had previously been tortured in prison in Xinjiang, traveled to Saudi Arabia from Turkey in February 2020 to perform Umraha religious pilgrimage, with his friend Ruze.
In early November 2020, Waili learned from a friend who had spoken to a Saudi official that the government planned to repatriate him to China. A few days later, he and Ruze were arrested.
The two Uyghur men have been detained since November 20, 2020 and were held at Jeddah Dhahban Central Jail before being transferred to Riyadh. Saudi authorities have not given Waili and Ruze the reason for their arrest or informed them of the charges against them.
Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states that no state party shall extradite a person to another country where he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. Saudi Arabia became a party to the convention on September 23, 1997.
Aimidoula Waili was previously arrested in Xinjiang in August 2013 for allegedly inciting an uprising by one of his factory workers. In early November 2020, Waili told Amnesty International that he had been tortured in prison: electrocuted and forced to stand on ice wearing only slippers and underwear for up to three hours a day.
After his release in 2016, Waili traveled to Turkey where he obtained residency documents that allowed him to stay in the country indefinitely. Earlier in February 2020, Waili and Ruze entered Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa to perform Umrah, a religious pilgrimage.
In June 2021, Amnesty International released a report revealing how hundreds of thousands of Muslim men and women in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are subjected to mass arbitrary detentions, indoctrination and torture.
Testimonies from former internment camp detainees have detailed the extreme measures taken by Chinese authorities since 2017 to essentially eradicate Islamic religious beliefs and traditions, as well as the cultural practices and local languages of Muslim ethnic groups in the region.
The Chinese government has gone to great lengths to cover up the human rights abuses taking place in Xinjiang and to prevent members of the Uyghur diaspora from talking about them. Amnesty International has documented numerous cases where Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang have been detained simply for living, traveling or studying abroad or for communicating with people abroad. Many were detained simply because they were “in contact” with people who lived, traveled, studied or communicated with people abroad.
Amnesty International has launched an international campaign calling for the closure of internment camps, with more than 70 detailed files on some of those believed to be currently detained. As of September 2021, more than 300,000 signatures have been collected worldwide demanding the release of all people currently held in Xinjiang’s internment camps and prisons.